SLIDESHOW | WDRB gets rare look inside old Louisville Gardens
The City of Louisville is currently seeking a developer to renovate the historic venue.
Monday, August 18th 2014, 4:29 pm EDT by
Monday, August 18th 2014, 5:12 pm EDT
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The city of Louisville is looking for a developer who will resurrect the old Louisville Gardens.
The building has been shuttered for nearly a decade, but on Monday, WDRB got a rare look inside what was once one of Louisville's most popular gathering spots.
It was once a hot spot for everything from wrestling to high school graduations. Now, the old Louisville Gardens is nothing more than a giant storage room.
It was a venue fit for a king, but Elvis left this building a long time ago.
For years, all most of us have seen is the outside, but now WDRB has gotten a rare look inside, and it's not pretty.
The seats once packed with basketball and concert fans are still intact, but the ceiling is stained, with tiles missing, and there's junk everywhere.
Metro Louisville is using the building primarily for storage. In fact, WDRB was there as a crew delivered bags of salt for use next winter.
Where legends such as Artis Gilmore once played and Elvis Presley swiveled his hips, now sit abandoned bookshelves and surplus desks.
Now the city is trying to do something. It has issued an official request for developers to come up with a new plan for the old building. But it won't be easy.
"This is very unique space. It's a huge building. It's almost an entire city block. It has a six-thousand seat auditorium in the center, so it has to be a really unique space for a reuse," said Chris Poynter, the spokesman for Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer.
Originally, the Cordish Company, which built 4th St. Live! was also to develop Louisville Gardens. But Cordish, ultimately, dropped the project.
"Cordish was interested in potentially putting a minor league hockey team here. I think their interests changed, and so that's why we decided to throw out the request for proposals to see if anybody else had ideas about how we can reuse this great piece of Louisville history," said Poynter.
Amidst the rubble, there are still signs of what once was; part of an old boxing ring, spotlights unused for years, a scoreboard, and photos of some of the acts that took the Gardens stage.
Also, an old pipe organ which had been hidden for years, was recently discovered.
Bill Lincoln, music director and organist for St. Boniface Catholic Church, remembers graduating from this building and hopes it can be resurrected.
"They've talked about making apartments out of it or some kind of shopping district. Hopefully something can be done to save the building. I think it's really worth it," he said.
"If we find an idea that we like, we'd be willing to basically give the Gardens to someone for a dollar lease or sale if they were to re-develop it," said Poynter.
The goal - to return Louisville Gardens from a junk pile to downtown jewel.
The city of Louisville hopes to have all the proposals in hand in about two weeks.
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